1872 Cup: Edinburgh won’t be distracted from the task in hand, insists Gilchrist

Capital outfit have their destiny in their own hands

Grant Gilchrist Edinburgh
Grant Gilchrist was all smiles after Edinburgh defeated Glasgow Warriors in the first of three matches in this season's 1872 Cup series back in December. Will he be in as good fettle after the third instalment this evening? ***Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson***

GRANT GILCHRIST would ordinarily take a keen interest the BT Cup Final, which invovles double-hunting Melrose taking on underdogs Stirling County at Murrayfield Stadium this [Saturday] afternoon. Having enjoyed a couple of happy seasons with the latter of those two teams during the early part of his career, the 27-year-old retains a heartfelt affection for the club.

“There’s quite a few of the boys I played with still in or around the team. Jonny Hope is the one that’s in my head as captain. I played alongside him for a number of years. It’s obviously going to be a hard challenge for them, playing against Melrose as the league champions, but cup rugby is a bit different isn’t it? You go out and put together a big performance and hope the boys do well,” he says.

Alas, on this occasion, Gilchrist knows that the match will pass him by. The small matter of his involvement in Edinburgh’s eagerly anticipated 1872 Cup clash against Glasgow Warriors at the same venue a couple of hours later will take up all his attention.

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 3)

“I will keep my head on the job as I always do. I won’t get too caught up in it but will obviously be hoping for Stirling to do well,’ he insists. “It will be good to have a bit of buzz about the place, get a big crowd in. I hope the excitement for the club games builds through the day, and then when we come in that buzz will only add to the excitement for us.

“But by the time we take the field and are ready to go it won’t matter whether there’s been club games before, it’ll just be another big game.”

Destiny in their own hands

It certainly is a big game for Edinburgh – and unchartered territory. The capital outfit have never before been in contention to make the end of season play-offs.

If Munster defeat Ulster earlier in the day then they qualify for the knock-out phase of the league campaign regardless of the result in their own game, but if Ulster pick up a bonus-point win at Thomond Park then Gilchrist and his team-mates must secure at least a bonus-point of their own.

“We will know by kick-off what we need to do, but our mentality won’t change. The ball is in our court. Our destiny is in our own hands. We have a game to win or get a point from to progress to the play-offs, and we want to get there as convincingly as possible,” says the second-row.

“It is a great game to be involved in as a player. For Edinburgh Rugby to be in a match that matters so much against Glasgow is a good place to be. Having a positive result to aim for and exciting big fixtures to play heading into the end of the season is like night and day when compared to the last few season when we have had nothing to play for.

“As a whole squad, we understand the challenge and are right up for going out there and getting stuck in. They are a top quality team, but we have played other top quality teams at home this season and come out on the winning side. We are looking forward to the battle. We all play this game for these days when you have to perform.”

Cockerill shoots from the hip ahead of 1872 Cup showdown

1872 Cup: Rennie puts his faith in George Horne for Edinburgh clash

Sarah Beaney Cup: Watsonians aim to dash Hills’ double hopes

If Edinburgh do make the play-offs then a trip to Limerick to take on Munster is their reward. It will be a tough challenge, but they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They have already exceeded expectations and shed their reputation as one of the league’s soft touches in this first year under head coach Richard Cockerill.

Earning respect

“We felt like we needed to earn more respect for the club. We are slowly doing that but we understand that is not an overnight project. It is not a one-year project, it is over the next three, five, however many years it takes,” says Gilchrist.

“Glasgow have had a lot of success and have rightly been praised for that but being an Edinburgh man, I see the opportunity to close the gap. Every time we take the field against them it is a good battle. We are not losing sight of the fact we want to win the 1872 Cup and be the best team in Scotland this year [the series is currently tied with one win each].”

But the play-offs remain the big prize.

“We’ve got to get it right or we will be bitterly disappointed with our season. That’s what it comes down to: one weekend of games,” concludes Gilchrist. “At the start of this season we’d have probably taken this opportunity to have a crack at this, but from our position now the play-offs are a minimum for us and we’ve got a home game with it all in our own hands, so we want to make sure we get it done.”

1872 Cup: kick-off time unjust to Ulster, Cockerill says

Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 3)
About David Barnes 3995 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.